Infertility Overview

A diagnosis of infertility is made when a man and woman have unprotected intercourse for one year without resulting in pregnancy, or for six months if the woman is older than 35 years of age. The cause of this lack of conception can be due to either the male or female partner, or a combination of the two. Both men and women suffer from infertility equally.

Infertility is not synonymous with sterility (the inability to have children). While 15% of couples in the United States are infertile, only 1-2% is sterile. Up to 50% of couples seeking medical assistance for infertility correction go on to become pregnant.

For women, causes of infertility are:

  • Hormonal imbalance
    • Thyroid dysfunction
    • Pituitary dysfunction
  • Conditions causing lack of ovulation
    • Polycystic ovaries
    • Obesity
    • Significantly underweight
  • Drugs
  • Blockage of fallopian tubes
    • Endometriosis
    • Prior surgery with scar tissue
    • Prior tubal ligation
    • Prior pelvic infection disease (PID)
  • Uterine abnormalities
    • Septum (wall in uterus from embryo development)
    • Polyps
    • Adhesions (scar tissue)
    • Prior intrauterine device (IUD)
    • Prior endometritis (infection)
  • Eating disorders
    • Malnutrition
    • Anorexia/bulimia

For men, the four most common causes of infertility are:

  • Low sperm count (or lack of sperm)
  • Low sperm motility – sperm don’t swim as well as necessary
  • Sperm malformation
  • Sperm duct blockage, making sperm unavailable

 

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